Senators laud Marcos call to scrutinize MIF
MANILA, Philippines — Senate leaders on Tuesday welcomed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s advice for them to carefully scrutinize the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri saying that the chamber would also consult concerned sectors in discussing the controversial measure.
Zubiri echoed the President’s comment that the Senate should not rush the passage of the MIF, which Mr. Marcos had already pitched to foreign business leaders during the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos, Switzerland, last week, even before senators could start their deliberations.
On Tuesday, the Senate referred to four different committees the bill that Sen. Mark Villar, who was part of the President’s official delegation to the WEF, had filed to establish the investment fund.
‘Keep it away from corruption’
“That’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning, that we should closely study this,” Zubiri told reporters.
“We will start with the House version and propose perfecting amendments to it. We will consult with all sectors and lay the premise on why the fund is necessary and what are the proper safeguards to keep it away from corruption and mismanagement,” he said.
Zubiri added that the Senate would take up the proposed bill “one step at a time” but would not delay the process.
‘Happy and thankful’
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said they would meet with Mr. Marcos’ economic managers on Jan. 30 to discuss the MIF.
“The President [is a former senator] so he knows very well how senators work. We will definitely scrutinize and see to it that this is needed, the public funds are protected and most of all, the target objectives will be addressed by this proposed measure,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III, while agreeing with the President’s remarks, stressed that it would be better to just drop the proposal if there were no justification, need and source of funds for it.
“Let’s just concentrate on food production and in bringing down the inflation rate and the prices of the basic needs of Filipinos,” Pimentel said. “Focus. Prioritize. Concentrate.”
At the House of Representatives, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said he was “happy and thankful” that Mr. Marcos believed that dividends of government-owned and -controlled corporations should not be tapped for the fund.
He maintained, however, that the chamber should recall its approval of House Bill 6608 to deliberate on changes made after its approval in December.
—WITH A REPORT FROM JEROME ANING
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